September 18, 2014

Elyria
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Students offer their services in exchange for donations

ELYRIA — No candy bars or coupon books or pies to buy — this school fundraiser is something different.

The 116 students of First Baptist Christian School in Elyria are selling goodwill, and the buyers are giving some as well.

Students are asking for donations to benefit the school. In exchange, they will participate in a work day benefiting elderly and disabled residents of Lorain County. The services provided by the students are free. Donations are solicited from family, friends, neighbors and others throughout the community.

Students in fifth through 12th grades will rake leaves, wash windows, clean gutters, stack wood and whatever else they can do to help out.

While younger students may not be able to do those activities, they are not left out.

Those in third and fourth grade will be helping out around the school, cleaning up and doing other things that may need done. The youngest students, those in pre-k, kindergarten, and first and second grade, will be making decorations for a local nursing home.

“Our No. 1 goal in educating students at First Baptist is teaching students how to be Christ-like and how to serve,” said Barbi Quick, director of marketing and fundraising at First Baptist. “When we are out there serving the community, students are given ‘random acts of kindness cards.’ If they see someone in need of help, they are supposed to get out of the car, hand the person a card, and say, ‘I’d like to help you today.’ ”

The school has received a lot of positive feedback since it began the work day in 2010.

“For the people who really need our help, they are very grateful,” Quick said. “It’s an amazing experience for students and the parents who help out.”

Kris Williams is one of those parents.

“It’s the highlight of my year,” Williams said.

She has gone out with the students for the past two years, and said it is much more beneficial than students raising money for something superficial, like a bowl-a-thon or skate-a-thon.

“It’s a good way to represent the school and help people in need,” she said.

The goal is for each student to raise $150 to help offset the costs to the school, which is $5,000 per student. Students average about $100, Quick said.

The highest earner for pre-k through eighth grade receives a $75 gift card. Students in ninth through 12th grade receive a limo ride for homecoming. High school students also have the opportunity to earn extra days off for their senior trip if they raise $150 each of their four years.

Senior Tori Odoe, 17, should definitely earn an extra day this year. She already has raised $320.

Tori, who moved to Ohio her junior year, said the work day was a fun way to get to know other students.

“It’s a great idea,” she said. “It’s a great way to get out and help people and get the news out about our school. It’s cool we could help older people who couldn’t really do these things, but we could.”

Tori plans to attend Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa, after graduation.

Working on a day “off” from school may not sound like fun, but students do end up having a lot of it.

Two years ago, Williams took a group of teenage girls to work early in the morning, and they grumbled the whole way. After a while, that changed, she said.

“They were having fun, laughing, jumping in the leaves,” she said. “They worked together as a team.”

Residents in need of assistance still have time to sign up. To be included on the list of homes, call (440) 458-5185.

Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.